||LONDON RESONATES WITH HIPPY LOVE AND HARD ROCK IN FLAWLESS GLENN HUGHES PERFORMANCE
Glenn Hughes: Islington Assembly Hall, London
21st January 2017
Words: Liz Medhurst, Pictures: Eric Duvet
"I am a messenger..." Glenn Hughes declares at the pinnacle of 'Black Country'. It's delivered in his trademark scream which feels like a caress, and no-one is any doubt what his message is – love.
It's not just because he's told us directly a few times tonight that he's all about the love – words are not necessary as this is seeped into every pore of the music and atmosphere. We know he means every word – and it's reciprocated. Emotional hardly even begins to cover it, this is a Happening.
There's nothing at all soppy about tonight however, it's all about the rock. Those instantly recognisable hard driving bass riffs and grooves rip through the venue with staggering power, with the rest of the band matching this intensity. This is what it's all about, this is how to do it. Hippy love and hard rock.
Last time Hughes toured the UK, in Oct/Nov 2015 it was as a power trio with drummer Pontus Engborg and guitarist Doug Aldrich, and it was mighty. This time round Glenn and Pontus are joined by Søren Andersen on guitar and Jay Boe on keyboards and it was stellar. Picking bands is an art form and when he gets it right, as now, he is utter perfection
The set list is taken from across his career, and new album 'Resonate' features strongly, with four songs. It's astonishing how the songwriting quality is so consistent you would be hard pushed to date the set if you didn't know – no nostalgia act here, he is as vibrant and relevant as ever and still at the top of his game.
Actually we need to talk about this for a moment as it bothers me greatly. Islington Assembly Hall is a great venue on all counts, however it is not large – likewise the other UK venues on this tour. I get incandescent with rage when I think that some of Hughes's peers sell out arenas by phoning it in and have wrung every last drop of goodwill out of past glories, when right here in front of us is a talent and performance that is more than world class.
Yes, it's a fantastic privilege to be here to witness this, and Hughes probably doesn't need me to fight his corner as he is genuinely grateful for all that he has achieved and where he is now, but still… the more people that experience this, the better.
And what will you get? Track after track of delights, such as the frenzied organ work and melodic bass wrangling of 'Getting Tighter'. The entrancement of Trapeze (and Black Country Communion) favourite 'Medusa' which will immerse you fully in its spell, providing a universal wow moment.
A band that are completely on fire, socking us with riffs, grooves, soul and power. New song 'Heavy', for which the words "instant classic" come to mind with impeccable harmonies and pace.
And of course Glenn himself, pounding on our heart strings as much as on those bass strings and delivering the kind of vocals that can only come from an otherworldly talent tempered with the experiences that have come from successfully overcoming his demons.
He's also completely authentic, and the emotion from the a capella vocals at the end of 'You Keep On Movin' is spine-tingling. This is followed by a declaration of love to his mother, who is currently very ill in hospital – he is out on the road at her insistence and she is never far from his thoughts.
We have only the one Deep Purple classic track tonight – 'Burn', as final encore. This is a track that you can hear on most nights of the week in live music venues across the land, and to be fair there's some damn fine versions of it. This is the best by far though, every bit as thrilling as it was forty years ago, possibly even more so. What a note to end on.
If you are a responsible parent you care about your kids' education and their appreciation of all that is good, so at some point you will need to sit down and explain the Deep Purple family tree to them. Make sure that you give Glenn Hughes the starring role that he deserves – as a bona fide rock god whose story continues. Go and see him on this tour and any other chance you get.
We are in no doubt about his love for us tonight – and this is my love letter right back.
Glenn Hughes 2017 UK Tour
With special guests Stone Broken
Tickets – www.myticket.co.uk, www.seetickets.com
23rd January: The Robin 2, Bilston
24th January: The Garage, Glasgow
26th January: Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
27th January: 02 Academy 2, Manchester
29th January: Sub 89, Reading
30th January: The Junction, Cambridge
1st February: The Church, Leeds
2nd February: The Fleece, Bristol